A New Beginning


I know of few things more disturbing to a man than having someone misplace his remote control. Perhaps the only thing more disconcerting is misplacing it himself. One night when our children were very small, I finally got them kissed, read to, and tucked into bed; then I sat down to watch the Toronto Blue Jays heat the stuffing out of the New York Yankees from the comfort of an easy chair. My right hand moved robotically to the bookstand beside me and fished around, coming up empty.

The remote control was nowhere to be felt.

I searched under the sofa and behind the sofa and inside the sofa. Nothing. Some spare change. A doll's head. A cinnamon bun. But no remote. Before long I found myself looking in ridiculous places. The heat vent. The dog dish. The sugar jar. Still nothing. Finally, I woke the children and brought them to the living room, like a drill sergeant.

"Kids," I barked, hoping they would somehow grasp the gravity of the situation. "I cannot find the remote control. It is missing. It is gone bye-bye." They didn't have a clue what I was talking about. In fact, one of them fell asleep as I barked, landing face first on the sofa.

I woke him up and knelt before him as he wiped sleep from his eyes. Then I pleaded once again: "The remote control is gone. Where is it?"

"I have self-control," said my four-year-old. But that's not what I was looking for.

Finding a piece of paper, I drew a rectangular object and scratched little square buttons inside it. Not a bad impression of a remote, I thought. Rachael, who was two, agreed. She pointed at it and said, "Ahhhh."

My heart jumped and I leaped to my feet. "Where?" I asked.

She pointed to the door. "Outside," she said.

Outside we went. She in her pajamas and I in my haste. Lifting her gently, I carried her in the crook of my arm. She pointed at the grass with one arm and held my neck with the other. I searched through the long grass. Nothing. I looked at Rachael. "Where?" I asked, with increasing impatience. "Swings," she said, in her most charming voice.

I looked beneath the swing set. Nothing. "Sandbox," she said.

I put her down and sifted through the sandbox, finding lots of things. Disgusting things. But no remote. "Rachael," I said with a sideways glance, "come on... where?" "In the woods," said Rachael, pointing.

I shook my head and resisted a smile. A two-year-old will do anything to stay awake. I took the child back to bed then, determined to resume my search in the morning. "I hope it doesn't rain," I told my wife, as I lay down on the living room floor, bringing my head to rest on a small purple pillow at the foot of the easy chair. The pillow seemed unusually lumpy. I thrust a hand beneath it and, as you've already guessed, came up with the remote.

Perhaps you've had your own remote control experience. They tell me that some newfangled televisions have a search button so the remote can be located a little more easily. It's a good thing. Some of us have trouble living without it. Our breath comes in short spurts. We panic. We blame others. We search in all the wrong places for something that is easily within our reach. So it is in life. We hurry from one place to the next looking for peace, never realizing that it will not be found until we slow down and stop, until we rest. Sadly most of us will go to great lengths to find something that controls our television, but we seem to avoid that which can bring our lives under control.

I got to looking at the buttons on the remote that night, partly to see if I'd drawn them correctly on my little piece of artwork. And I noticed something. There is a fast-forward button. And some movies are better watched with it on. But for the most part the movie or the game is ruined if you leave the machine on fast-forward. It's time we notice the other buttons: Pause. Stop. Play.

Callaway, Phil. Who Put My Life on Fast-Forward? Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2002, p. 35-37. Www.philcallaway.com

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